It pays to be an expatriate in Switzerland - literally.

According to data published by HSBC Holdings, expats living in Switzerland earn nearly twice the global average, on US$188,275 ($271,653) a year - the highest in the world.

Hong Kong and India ranked second and third respectively. Switzerland also topped the bank's expat career list for the second year in a row, with the country ranked the best for a successful career abroad.

"Expats ranked Switzerland highly for both financial and personal well-being criteria," head of HSBC Expat Dean Blackburn told Bloomberg.

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"The combination of high salaries and excellent work culture has placed Switzerland at the top of the careers league table."

The HSBC survey showed 69 per cent thought their work-life balance had improved in Switzerland and 61 per cent thought the work culture was better than their home country.

In terms of a career abroad, Germany ranked second with Sweden following in third. Six of the top ten spots were European countries.

"Expats in Sweden and Germany enjoy benefits outside the financial side of work," said Blackburn.

"Germany offers the best job security for expats. Sweden, as well as topping the tables for work culture, is praised by 79 per cent of expats for its excellent work-life balance."